Persecution, deception, and moral erosion … the devil’s strategy is still the same.

The following is taken from remarks by Billy Graham at the annual retreat of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association last January. This is an informal talk to an audience of close friends, associates, staff members, members of the BGEA board, and invited family members.

The messages in Revelation to the seven churches of Asia are among the most important passages we can study today. These seven churches, all on the western seaboard of modern Turkey, were relatively young, but already the devil was at work. His strategy: persecution; intellectual deception, including false teaching; and moral erosion, including sub-Christian ethical standards. The diabolical strategy is still the same.

The first chapter of Revelation is a rich description of our Lord. Around him were seven separate lampstands, each representing one of the seven churches. His right hand held seven stars. Stars and lamps shed light. Churches and Christians are to be light-bearers in a dark world. Are you bearing the light, the reflected glory of your Lord Jesus Christ, in your life, your ministry, and your family?

The church of Ephesus represents the danger of leaving our first love. In Acts 19 we learn what a great beginning that church had had. Paul spent two-and-one-half years there. The Lord said, I know your works. You are a good church. You have worked hard. You have endured much. You are patient. You have had the courage to throw out error, you have discipline in the church. Nevertheless, he had something against them. They had left their first love. He didn’t tell the Ephesians that they had lost their first love, but that they had left it. This was an act of the will.

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